The guides last met face-to-face on the evening of the day that Boris Johnson announced a nationwide lockdown was going to start the following weekend. It was March 16th. And they haven’t been able to meet since but they’ve put into practice those crucial guide values of being flexible and adaptable and had a lot of fun nevertheless!
I learnt this from talking to 1st Barrow Guide Leader Frances Acton whilst sitting, socially distanced of course, in her garden one late afternoon in July. She was really pleased with the way virtual guiding had worked out as about 20 guides, from her usual group of 36,, had regularly used Zoom to meet on a Monday night, their usual day of the week, at 7pm, their usual time. Some of the girls had laptops, others tablets or computers, and some even managed to Zoom on their smart phones. All the girls loved seeing each other as lockdown had been such an isolating experience for many of them. This was because they were in the age range 10-14 and, unless the children of key-workers, their classes had never restarted.
The Zoom meeting started after Easter. Up to then the girls worked on achieving their Easter Badges. For this badge they learnt about the traditions of Easter, made a spring garden in a tray and an Easter window decoration involving eggs. These were sometimes quite large eggs as they put papier-mâché around balloons then decorated them. In this activity the Brownies joined in too and then both guides and brownies could walk around the village trying to spot them in windows on their individual lockdown walks. Added to these activities were a night spent camping in their back gardens - the girls were brave as it was a cold night – and making eggy bread and s’mores. S’mores sound wonderful. They are of American origin and so delicious you always want some more = s’mores! You roast marshmallows and then squash them between chocolate biscuits….mmmmmmm.
The activities the girls did on Monday nights, in their own homes but together on screen, t varied immensely from making real pizzas with pizza dough, chocolate cake in a mug to producing craft work, having quizzes, beetle drives and games of bingo but best of all Zoom scavenger hunts. These involve guides having to leave their screens to find a certain object, for example a red sock, then dash back with it and show it to the others. These were very successful as was making armpit fudge –which involved kneading chocolate, butter and icing sugar under your arm pit and making your self-portrait out of fruit. One of the few activities that failed was charades. Zoom charades with 20 guides – just don’t try!
1st Barrow Guides have long been twinned with a group from Grenada in the Caribbean. On July 3rd they arranged a link up and very much enjoyed seeing their friends laughing and enjoying life in a country with blue skies and sunshine, few Covid cases and no deaths. Frances cheerfully suggested to her fellow guide leader that they all went over to visit but was met with strong rebuffs. No! No! Don’t come! We don’t want your dreadful diseases!
However, in spite of the sorry state of the world beyond islands in the Caribbean, Barrow’s guides are continuing to be cheerful and helpful. They can’t wait until they can meet up, face-to-face again, in some form or another in September. Frances isn’t sure how it is going to be achieved yet but she’s determined to work something out. And Frances keeps her word.